Please tell us about your professional background?
Over the years working in different environments and cultures exposed me to a truly diverse set of business practices and ethics which led to extensive experience in international business and technology management. I have also served in senior business and technology management positions in startups, GLOBAL 2000 corporations and public sector organizations in USA and Pakistan.
Earlier, as Managing Director of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the apex Government organization mandated to promote the IT industry of Pakistan, I introduced a strategic vision incorporating IT park development, venture capital promotion, country branding, and human capital development. // Earlier, the apex Government organization mandated to promote the IT industry of Pakistan, I as the Managing Director of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) introduced a strategic vision incorporating IT park development, venture capital promotion, country branding and human capital development.
I am also the co-founder and former CEO of CresSoft, Inc. which at the time was Pakistan’s largest offshore outsourcing company offering e-commerce and Convergent Telecommunications solutions to customers like BP, ICI, and Schlumberger. I was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), awarded a National Leadership Award by the USA National Republican Congressional Committee, and nominated Good Will Ambassador for the City of Houston. A keen interest and being a strong supporter of entrepreneurs in Pakistan led to becoming a founding charter member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) Islamabad.
Tell us about LMKR Company and its related services?
LMKR provides mobile technology solutions, data services, geoscience and data management consulting solutions to oil and gas operators, geoscientists and investors in order to lower the risk associated with unconventional oil and gas, exploration and production. LMKR’s expertise lies in innovation around petroleum E&P data management, consultancy services, software solutions and training.
In addition to offering services and solutions for the upstream oil and gas sector, LMKR has also initiated its cross industry technology consulting services division under the name of LMKT which has been operational since January 2011 and continues to provide a host of solutions ranging from its proprietary RFID based security and asset management solutions, to ERP/GRP, Enterprise GIS as well as infrastructure solutions to a number of industry verticals. Besides cross industry solutions, LMKT also has a deep understanding and has an industry solutions portfolio for the utility sector including Telecom, Gas and Power.
How much work force do you have in Pakistan?
LMKR started with a dozen employees back in 1994. Today, there are over 600 dedicated professionals dotted around the globe in over 22 countries. We have a pool of over 268 Geologists and Geophysicists who are highly trained and skilled. The number of employees does not have a cap; as our business grows so does our employee base. We also have extensive training programs where we offer trainings to our employees and our clients on current technologies and developments.
Please tell us about LMKR as an employer?
I believe that the success achieved throughout the years has been based on the abilities, talents and strengths of employees, referred to as members. We are a learning organization seeking to empower team members by providing them opportunities to develop their skills. Keeping this in view, we always strive to facilitate and meet not only the basic needs of LMKR members but also provide them with enough opportunities to explore their potential and achieve the maximum. There are comprehensive internal and external training and development programs which ensure the development of our members and are absolutely vital in providing them with the right skill set fulfilling career aspirations.
How does LMKR maintain its standards?
LMKR believes in providing a structured environment with a defined path to all its employees to work together towards the goal of developing products and services that optimally fulfill the customers’ requirements.
The quality policy at LMKR revolves around improvement in the quality of teamwork, policy implementation, and quality in routine work. These components provide an integrated set of procedures and standards that promote continuous improvement and progress in every aspect of work at LMKR. We believe in respect for people, customer satisfaction and management by fact.
Where does LMKR acquire the machineries/equipment used to provide different services? Can these machines/equipments be manufactured in Pakistan?
LMKR serves in an industry which in terms of technology can be classified as high science. Considering the type of equipment involved is again rather complex and is not like the usual mass produced off the assembly line. Though, there are services which we provide that use the shelf standard equipment which we procure through selected vendors. As much as I would like to see Pakistan grow in this sector, unfortunately at the moment such a choice does not exist and we have to rely on the tried and tested international brands.
What suggestions would you give regarding the implementation of different automated procedures to improve the efficiency of a business?
In this era of increasing resource costs and increasingly complex business operations, the need for automation is one which cannot be ignored. Achieving the desired efficiency through automation requires proper planning which usually means getting the stake holders involved, choosing the right tools, choosing the right implementation strategy and most importantly, getting the end users trained which ensures that there is less resistance to changes which automation usually brings about.
How do you see the government policies in Pakistan for this business?
The government has faced a set of challenges throughout its onset which besides having an impact on various industry verticals has also had a dominant impact on the ICT sector.
Besides shortage of funds at the government’s end for internal projects and their successful roll, some of the policies pertaining to addition of tax on software imports as well as reselling are bound to escalate the total cost of ownership for end users and thus such policies are expected to slow down technology adoption within the public, government and the private sectors.
In terms of software export, the recent advent of security challenges has shown concerns of the international customer base which were outsourcing at a much rapid pace and more enthusiastically till a few years back.
Revenues generated through PPEPDR project is directly related to government policies and incentives for enhancing E&P activities in Pakistan. A healthy and secure investment environment in E&P sector will generate more business opportunities for LMKR data management capabilities. Government policies addressing unconventional resources have a direct impact on our business and any initiatives taken by Government in this regard will help LMKR’s business to grow.
How do you compare Pakistan with other countries with respect to business potential, profitability and government policies?
It is a fact that government policies affect businesses. For example, if a government imposes more taxes and duties on a particular sector than is justified by its profit margin, it would go down as the businesses will not be able to sustain growth. Similarly, tax and duty exemption for a particular sector would encourage businessmen to invest in it. As a result the sector will grow. If a country’s monetary policy ensures availability of loans at reasonable rates, investment will go up.
The government policy of a country depends upon its political culture. It can also vary depending on the form of the government. Policy in a communist country will be different from that in a democracy or dictatorship. The government policy in a politically stable country will also be different from an unstable country. In a stable political system, a government can take sustained business-friendly decisions to strengthen local business.
Looking specifically at Pakistan’s business environment, the single most important factor which has a monumental effect on domestic or foreign investment is the security situation of the country. If a government cannot provide a secure stable atmosphere to the businesses, even the friendliest of policies will falter. In such negative circumstances, a country cannot have a sustained business-friendly environment or policy. In an unstable system, a government finds it difficult to maintain law and order which affects the business environment hampering business and growth.
Do you have affiliations with any universities?
As far as the affiliations with the academic institutions are concerned, LMKR has an “Academia Program” through which LMKR grants universities access to products and software for their use in curriculum at both graduate and undergraduate levels. We have a clear vision to promote research at the academic level. LMKR also actively sponsors different student projects at institutions, the latest being the LMKR’s Aqua-II, which is a project of the Mechanical Engineering students from GIKI.
Which areas/sectors of Pakistan are in need of information management services to improve their efficiency and reduce their cost?
Every sector of Pakistan with huge data sets can benefit from IM services like, Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing, Construction, Transport, Trade, Finance and Insurance to name a few. These sectors can establish their databases by converting their manual work with the digital. They can also establish their libraries along with the digital databases to improve their efficiency and reduce their costs.
What kind of companies can take advantage of LMKR’s information management services?
In the Oil and Gas sector, the companies with huge data sets can get the maximum benefit from IM services, e.g. OGDCL, OMV, POL, MGCL, PPL, ENI etc. They can have the PPEPDR online subscription to view related data and also to purchase the required Data, PetroHive (indexing and cataloging software) for their data warehousing system, EMS and PPIS for information services and selection of Data, RAP software for the improvement of their daily rig activities. On the downstream side the services companies can benefit via using EMS and PPIS online for daily updates about the E&P activities and can establish stronger business relationships with the exploration companies. Data Imaging and Scanning service of LMKR can cater to both upstream and downstream companies. Essentially, LMKR can offer its Information Management services to a broad spectrum of clients and can come up with solutions tailor made to their needs.
How do you see the land of Pakistan with respect to natural resources?
Pakistan is a land of immense diversity in terms of the natural resources, with plenty of opportunities for its people to prosper. This statement holds true even if you look at the statistics. The only issue or hindrance that I see which is prohibiting the progress is the lack of proper infrastructure and the will to realize these assets. Coming to the point of Oil and Gas resources in Pakistan, there is an immense potential for conventional as well as the unconventional resources. Also, in recent years there has been a global shift of focus towards the unconventional resources, and Pakistan has great potential in that with identified reserves of tight gas in places, in the end it is a matter of developing these resources and making sure we are on the right path and moving ahead with the rest of the world.
What is the present situation of energy sector in Pakistan?
In the wake of the global energy crises and escalating local energy demands managing Pakistan’s Oil & gas portfolio is a format able challenge. Currently, oil and gas production is 67,000 BOPD and 4 BCFD respectively. Oil & gas sector provides 80% of the total energy supply of the country. Energy demand is projected to grow to 147 MTOE by 2022 reflecting a phenomenal increase of 126% compared to 2010. Gas being largest component of energy supply is also projected to decline from existing 4.2 BCFD to 1.6 BCFD up to 2022 giving rise to deficit of 7 BCFD. To sustain a high rate of economic development, in lieu of this high energy demand, indigenous hydrocarbon production including conventional and non-conventional needs to be increased.
What are the major issues being faced by the energy sector in increasing the capacity?
Major issues faced by E&P companies today are security and geo political situation of the country and the unavailability or high cost of cutting edge technology and resources for enhanced recovery of depleting reservoirs in country. Lack of policies and a framework addressing the unconventional reservoir exploration incentives is also hampering the progress and in addition no bidding round has been conducted after 2009 and there is an immense need to attract E&P companies through new bidding rounds in the country.
What short term solutions do you recommend ?
I would say rather than focusing on the short term solutions, we need to look at the bigger picture and plan ahead accordingly as our nation’s future is dependent on it.
We are a developing country with growing energy demands. However, there are a few important steps which we can take immediately to provide some relief and accelerate the progress.
- Anomalies which have emerged between the federation and the provinces after the 18th Constitutional Amendment should be removed.
- Unconventional Reservoirs are required to be evaluated by collection of more data by initiating Pilot Projects in Shale Gas as early as possible.
- Coordination and cooperation between various concerned Ministries should be improved.
- A consortium of the industry, exploration companies and service providers should be formed to make the best use of internationally available technology for the benefit of Pakistan.
- To accelerate work on natural gas exploration, there is a strong need to establish direct linkage of domestic natural gas price with import substitution options.
- Additional incentives should be given for low Btu gas, marginal gas-fields and difficult zones.
- Security environment both by the government and local community should not discourage investors and there should be a set of security policies and guidelines.
- Security guidelines should be issued to potential E&P companies and their contractors to reduce risk to lowest acceptable levels.
How can we improve the operations of the government organizations with the help of your services like ERP (enterprise resource planning) or business process management systems?
A major stumbling block in improving operational efficiency of government organizations is manual file movement. This process is cumbersome and prone to exploitation. Our ERP solutions implement electronic movement of files which is not only efficient but also very transparent. The other stumbling blocks are the tedious processes that are in place for getting work done in government organizations. Implementing these processes electronically will mean automating the inefficiencies. We offer Business Process Management services not just to implement business processes but to reengineer the processes to make them more efficient for automation.
Our Government Resource planning solution (GRP) has been developed and matured over a period of almost 7 years and is a blend of deep government functions domain knowledge, coupled with best practices and enhancements based on practical deployment, change management and support experience. The product suite is called “V-Govern” and comprises of 5 specific government function automation applications along with embedded workflows and reports. In the first instance, V-Govern enables a government of roll out the solution to various stakeholders centrally and ensures standardized workflows and features to extrapolate consistent data collection and subsequently produce dynamic reporting. Based on the current deployments and the existing user base, the solutions deployed instances have enabled the government to radically reduce file/case processing time at an internal as well as an intra-department/functionary level. Similarly, keeping in focus the challenges pertaining to the work culture and dynamics of a government organization, the solution has various checks, alerts, schedules and dynamic reports available to a) Ensure monitoring and management of routine functions and b) The ability to enforce and review work in progress and pertaining timelines.
Please tell us about your Information security management system?
Being the first ISO 27001:2005 certified petroleum and IT Services Company in Pakistan, LMKR gives great significance to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of its information assets. Besides this, we have taken all necessary measures to enable business continuity & disaster recovery of our day to day business. Hence, we have established a very thorough Information Security Management System based on the requirements of ISO 27001:2005 and the guidelines provided by ISO 17799:2005 standards. As a fulfillment of these requirements, we periodically carry out risk assessment for our information assets and implement proper controls in the form of policies, procedures or technology. We ensure that our services and products are more secure, safe and have better continuity and recovery elements.